Police violence and racism in the United States: a new drama in Atlanta rekindles anger

The wreckage of the restaurant in which Rayshard Brooks was killed by police in Atlanta, USA, pictured on June 14, 2020. (© AFP / Elijah Nouvelage)

What to put the fire to the powder. This Sunday, the medical examiner qualified homicide death of 27-year-old black man Rayshard Brooks, which occurred on Friday evening. The latter had been fatally shot by a police officer in front of a restaurant d’Atlanta, in the State of Georgia.

The restaurant in question, which belongs to the Wendy’s chain, was set on fire Saturday as hundreds protested in the state capital of Georgia, blocking a highway. In the process, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose name has been put forward as Democrat Joe Biden’s possible running mate for the November presidential election, announced the “immediate” resignation of Erika Shields, who had headed the city’s police force for over 20 years.

Rayshard Brooks’ death came against the backdrop of a lawsuit demonstrations against police violence and racism in the United States and in other countries, following the May 25 death of George Floyd, an African-American who died asphyxiated by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Legitimate” anger

Rayshard Brooks, 27, fell asleep in his car on the drive-through driveway of the restaurant, according to an official report, and establishment employees called the police because his vehicle was blocking customers. The man was intoxicated and resisted when two white policemen tried to arrest him, claims thee Georgia State Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

Pictures of the incident, released to the public on Sunday by police, show a fight between the agents and the suspect who manages to seize the Taser gun one of the policemen and flees.

But while the GBI claims Mr Brooks “turned around and pointed the Taser at the officer who used his gun,” footage shows that the suspect has his back turned to the policeman when he is shot and wounded. Transported to a hospital and operated, he died soon after, say investigators, according to which an agent was injured.

The officer who fired, Garrett Rolfe, was fired from the Atlanta Police Force and the second officer involved assigned to administrative duties, ABC News television reported. According to the local daily Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionFulton District Attorney Paul Howard said his office would decide by midweek on which prosecution to initiate.

It is the 48th shooting incident involving a police officer on which the GBI has been investigating since the beginning of the year, according to the daily. Fifteen of these shootings were fatal.

Portrait of Constable Garrett Rolfe provided on June 14, 2020 by Atlanta Police.
Portrait of Constable Garrett Rolfe provided on June 14, 2020 by Atlanta Police. (©The Atlanta Police Department/AFP/Handout)

“This is not an isolated incident”

Lawyer acting on behalf of victim’s family, Chris Stewart, sentenced disproportionate use of force to Rayshard Brooks, father of four, who celebrated his daughter’s eighth birthday on the same day.

In Georgia, a Taser is not a lethal weapon […] There were other options than shooting him in the back.

Georgia’s ex-African-American Stacey Abrams, another potential running mate of Joe Biden, ruled on Sunday “Legitimizes” the anger of the demonstrators:

A man was killed for sleeping in an alley and we know this was not an isolated incident.

James Clyburn, an African-American Democratic representative from South Carolina, said he was outraged. “There was no need to use lethal force. And I don’t know what made this guy do that, ”he said on CNN.

It has to be in the culture. It must be the system.

He distanced himself from the slogan “defund the police”, believing that “the police have a role to play” and that “we must ensure that their role conforms at the time ”.

Photo provided by Atlanta Police Department showing the arrest of Rayshard Brooks on June 13, 2020.
Photo provided by Atlanta Police Department showing the arrest of Rayshard Brooks on June 13, 2020. (©The Atlanta Police Department/AFP/Lizabeth MENZIES)

Human chain in Berlin

In Europe, the day after anti-racist demonstrations in France, Great Britain or Switzerland, the Germans took to the streets on Sunday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the creation of a commission on racial inequalities, calling for attacking the “substance” of racism and not symbols, after recent degradation of statues.

French President Emmanuel Macron assured Sunday that France will be “intractable” in the face of racism but “will not erase any trace or name of its history” and “will not unbolt a statue”.

Human Rights Watch called on him for “concrete reforms” to put an end to “abusive and discriminatory identity checks” and “racism within the police force”.

Human Chain Against Racism in Berlin, Germany on June 14, 2020.
Human Chain Against Racism in Berlin, Germany on June 14, 2020. (©AFP/John MACDOUGALL)

Source: © 2020 AFP

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